Gone are the kings of the days of old:

Morgan Hetrick
07 December 1931 - 14 July 2004
(Pearl Harbor Day - Bastille Day)

þa ymbe hlæw riodan      hildedeore
æþelinga bearn      ealra twelfa
woldon cearge cwiðan      kyning mænan
wordgyd wrecan      7 ymb wer sprecan
eahtodan eorlscipe      7 his ellenweorc
duguðum demdon      swa hit gedefe bið
þæt mon his winedryhten      wordum herge
ferhðum freoge      þonne he forð scile
of lichaman      læded weorðan
swa begnornodon      geata leode
hlafordes hryre      heorðgeneatas
cwædon þæt he wære      wyruldcyning
manna mildust      monðwærust
leodum liðost      7 lofgeornost.

Then twelve warriors rode around the tomb,
Chieftan's sons, champions in battle,
all of them distraught, chanting in dirges,
mourning his loss as a man and a king.
They extolled his heoric nature and exploits
and gave thanks for his greatness, which was the proper thing
for a man should praise a prince whom he holds dear
and cherish his memory when that moment comes
when he has to be conveyed from his bodily home.
So the Geat people, his hearth companions,
sorrowed for the lord who had been laid low.
They said that of all the kings upon the earth
he was the man most gracious and fair-minded,
kindest to his people and keenest to win fame.

-- Beowulf (Seamus Heaney tr.)

Morgan Hetrick has passed over. He was like a grandfather to me; he occupied a special place in all the hearts of those who knew him, and now that place is as empty as an ocean drained of its water. He led a good life -- no-one can deny that. He saw and did things many of us will never see. He won and lost more fortunes than any of us would care to contemplate. More importantly, he saw to it that those around him shared in his good life and good spirits.

Forever imparting his seventy-two years of well-earned wisdom, Morgan knew the best ways to live, and the one secret to a good life: every morning, rain or shine (preferrably shine), you've got to get out there, strap on an airplane, and get the hell off the ground. Flight was Morgan's real passion, despite everything else in his life, and so long as he had an aeroplane to fly, nothing could faze him. And indeed nothing did: staggering from the wreck, Morgan told the EMT's that, if they could save him, good, but if not, well, that was all right, too. Because, you see, every good pilot knows that any landing you walk away from is a good landing -- this may not have been the best, but to the last he made sure that everyone else was all right.

So, cheers, old man, and as you fly the friendliest skies in the universe, remember to clip the angels' wings for those of us still here (and I hear the Magdeline likes Carribean boat trips).

We will miss you.

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